Allan Freese switches focus to league performance

FILE PICTURE: Allan Freese coach of Platinum Stars. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu  /BackpagePix

FILE PICTURE: Allan Freese coach of Platinum Stars. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Despite having successfully booked their spot in the Telkom Knockout final at the end of the month, Platinum Stars coach Allan Freese is already turning his attention to fixing Dikwena’s stuttering Premiership form.

Eleazar Rodgers scored his first goal in Stars’ colours, edging 10-man Mamelodi Sundowns at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday, giving Freese’s men the perfect opportunity to defend their title against SuperSport United.

“The pressure is on to do well in the league. We’re going to start to concentrate on that now, to play well and to prepare well for the next league game,” Freese said afterwards.

“I know we’re supposed to be happy because we’re in the final, but we’ll put that one side and concentrate on preparing for the next league game.

“I don’t know why we’re not doing well in the one but we’re doing well in the other.”

Rodgers’ second-half strike ended a run of three games without a win for his team, following back-to-back defeats in the league and a scoreless draw in the previous round of the knockout competition against Kaizer Chiefs, which was eventually decided on penalties.

Two victories from nine league outings signals a difficult start to the 2014/15 season, where the Rustenburg outfit have managed just eight points and are lying in 13th spot on the log.

Freese is justified in his concern. Compared with the same period last season, Stars are some five points and six league positions off the pace and have lost seven of their 15 fixtures in all competitions.

He has, however, once again managed to get the better of Pitso Mosimane’s Brazilians. Of their last four cup  meetings, Stars have a perfect record and have been the reason for Sundowns’ exit from all three domestic cup competitions — the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup — over the last 18 months.

“I’m happy we could get to the final, especially for the players. I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance to get there,” Freese said.

“Well done to the players, they put in a lot of effort. It wasn’t going to be an easy game and we knew that.”

After the death of former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa at the end of last month, Stars had gone fourteen days without playing and Freese said he had been anxious about his team’s match-sharpness.

“After the break, I didn’t know whether we were going to come out and play well, or were we going to come out and play poorly.

“Everybody else had played, we were the only team, along with Pirates, that hadn’t played. I didn’t know where we were going to be.”

Looking ahead to the final, Stars will once again be considered underdogs when they meet a rejuvenated SuperSport that is undoubtedly the league’s most dangerous contender.

Four-time league-winning boss Gordon Igesund has once again worked wonders with a team that had looked destined for a bottom-half finish two months ago.

Seven victories from his eight games in charge, however, the Pretoria outfit have risen from the ashes and are in pole position to lift their first title in two-and-a-half years.

“They’re on top of their game, but I would hope to believe that we’re also on top of our game,” Freese said of the November 29 final.


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